Tennessee Tech University has added more parking over the summer and implemented a free new shuttle system around campus.
Students, faculty and staff have all complained about the lack of parking on campus. However, the new parking additions spread throughout campus this semester have created 180 extra spots. The free shuttle runs a route throughout campus, allowing students to be picked up at any of the given stops along the way. Jack Butler, associate vice president of Facilities and Business Services, is eager for students to embrace the new change.
“Over time, the frustration levels will be lower because we will have more parking. We will be running shuttles, and people will be able to find somewhere to park,” said Butler. “Every year it will get better and better.”
The biggest addition made to parking was behind Foundation Hall. The new spots behind Foundation Hall make up 125 of the 180 spots on campus. Another location behind Matthews Daniel Hall added 21 spots for additional parking.
However, some still remain skeptical about the parking situation on campus. Psychology major Kayla Taylor said the current issue with parking affects many of her decisions when it comes to transportation on campus.
“I avoided leaving campus at all costs during the week because the chances of me finding a parking spot close to my dorm were slim to none,” said Taylor. She even admitted to receiving $150 in parking tickets in one semester from parking in spots that were not allocated for her tag. Taylor said she now lives off campus, but proximity was a huge factor in her decision due to the parking issue.
“When it comes to driving to campus now, I don't even try anymore,” said Taylor. “I actually refuse to drive to campus unless it's later in the day when the commuter lots are starting to get empty.”
However, Taylor isn’t the only one receiving tickets for parking in the wrong spaces. Tony Nelson, interim director of the University Police Department, agreed there are a lot of students struggling to find parking.
"We write more tickets at the beginning of each semester,” said Nelson. “However, as it goes along, people get settled in and realize where they need to park.”
Over the course of the next 20 years, Tech’s campus will change dramatically. According to Tech’s campus master plan, renovations will be made to add up to 900 spots for parking on the current Foundation Hall property. The commuter parking lot will be replaced with an integrated science building, and those spots will be relocated to the western edge of the campus, past the intramural fields, which could add over 700 spots.
To accommodate for the remote parking, shuttle systems have been implemented around campus. Currently, there is one shuttle running a route through the center of and around the outskirts of campus. As parking shifts to the perimeter of the campus, the number of shuttles will be increased, according to the campus master plan.
Although changes are slow, students are beginning to see alterations being made to assist with the growing need.
“Be patient with us,” said Butler. “We are putting money toward it (parking). It’s just a drawn out process.”